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Yale Talk podcast: Salovey, Iheanacho, Dike, Mandhry discuss The HAPPINESS Project

 

From left, Yale President Peter Salovey; Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty Theddeus Iheanacho, MD, and Charles Dike, MD; and Eddie Mandhry, Director for Africa and the Middle East for the Yale Office of International Affairs, discussed The HAPPINESS Project, which aims to improve mental health care delivery in Nigeria, on a recent Yale Talk podcast. The four men were in Lagos, Nigeria, in January, when they announced expansion of The HAPPINESS Project, which trains primary care workers in Imo State, Nigeria, to screen for, assess, and treat mental health conditions like depression, psychosis, and anxiety. Listen

Calhoun shares her experiences with racism in the medical field during Pediatric Grand Rounds

 

For Amanda J. Calhoun, MD, MPH, being a Yale Psychiatry resident and an underrepresented minority is like looking at life through two different lenses. "There is the clinical, 'learn how to be a doctor' lens, and there is the, 'is this system really helping to rectify institutionalized racism?' lens," Calhoun said. "Some would argue that I should focus on doctoring first, and then later, challenge the system. But that is not just incorrect; it is impossible." Calhoun was among a select group of speakers - and the only resident - chosen to share their narrative stories about the patient experience and working as a doctor at the Feb. 5 Pediatric Grand Rounds. Read more

Yale study may help resolve bitter debate over low-cal sweeteners

Several studies in recent years have reported that low-calorie sweeteners in foods and beverages disrupt the human metabolism, promoting the development of diabetes and obesity. But other studies have found that consuming low-calorie drinks and food has little impact on metabolism and might actually aid in weight loss. A new study by Yale researchers, including senior author Dana Small, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, published in Cell Metabolism may help reconcile these conflicting findings. Read more  

Yale genomics study: Helping researchers better understand the opioid epidemic

A human genomics study led by Renato Polimanti, PhD, left, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Joel Gelernter, MD, right, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Genetics and of Neuroscience, identified specific genetic regions that link opioid exposure and dependence to neuropsychiatric traits like risk-taking behaviors, alcohol abuse, and depression. The study, completed in collaboration with the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, was published in Molecular Psychiatry. Read more  

Pressure to keep up: Status imbalance a major factor in stress in gay men

John Pachankis, PhD, Susan Dwight Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health who has a secondary appointment in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, is the lead author of a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that examines the mental health hardships among gay and bisexual men. Those hardships can be explained, at least in part, by the negative impact of status consciousness, competitiveness, and racism among gay and bisexual men, according to the study. Read more  

Van den Pol, research colleagues find ally in fight against brain tumors: Ebola

Glioblastomas are relentless, often lethal brain tumors. Scientists, including Anthony van den Pol, PhD, Professor of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, have enlisted a most unlikely ally in efforts to treat this form of cancer - elements of the Ebola virus. "The irony is that one of the world's deadliest viruses may be useful in treating one of the deadliest of brain cancers," van den Pol said. The study, published in the Journal of Virology, shows the approach takes advantage of a weakness in most cancer tumors and also of an Ebola defense against the immune system response to pathogens. Read more  

Antidote to pain and negativity? Let it be.

Hedy Kober, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, is lead author of a paper published in Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience that touts the benefits of mindfulness to help people deal with physical pain and negative emotions. Mindfulness has been shown to have benefits in treating many conditions such as anxiety and depression. But Kober and colleagues wanted to know whether people with no formal training in meditation and mindfulness might benefit from a brief 20-minute introduction to mindfulness concepts. Read more  

Ravven, Budde, among authors of new review on impact of paid maternity leave on mothers, children

A national paid maternity leave policy in the United States would benefit overall public health, researchers - including two from the Yale Department of Psychiatry - concluded in a new systematic literature review, published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Simha Ravven, MD, left, Assistant Clinical Professor, and Kristin Budde, MD, MPH, right, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, are among the authors of the publication, which explores the impact of paid maternity leave on the mental and physical health of mothers and children. Read more  

Researchers find correlation between pain and overeating in veterans

A new study led by Robin Masheb, PhD, Senior Research Scientist in Psychiatry, found that over 40 percent of veterans screened overate in response to physical pain at least once in the 30 days prior to being surveyed. The behavior, known as pain overeating, was more prevalent for 14 percent of veterans who reported eating in response to physical pain at least once a day. The findings were reported in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The researchers said pain overeating is common among older adults who seek to lose weight, and that it is more prevalent among veterans with higher weight. Read more  

Tsai named Dean of UTHealth School of Public Health San Antonio Campus

Jack Tsai, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has accepted the position of campus Dean at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in San Antonio, effective March 3. In a statement, UTHealth said Tsai's robust research on topics related to homelessness, severe mental illness, trauma, and health disparities align well with critical public health issues faced by the San Antonio region and across Texas. Tsai will maintain an adjunct professorship appointment at Yale. Read more  

Chaffkin, Yu named Program-Wide Chief Residents for 2020-21 academic year

Jessica Chaffkin, MD, and Ben Yu, MD, third-year residents in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, have been named the Program-Wide Chief Residents for the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program for the 2020-21 academic year. The program appoints two senior residents each to fill the position. Being selected as a chief resident is a time-honored tradition in which senior residents are selected from among their peers to serve as leaders within the residency program. Read more  

Smidt among recipients of Ohio Psychological Association's 2020 Dr. Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship

Alec Smidt, Postgraduate Fellow in the department's Doctoral Internship in Clinical and Community Psychology, is among three recipients of the Ohio Psychological Association's 2020 Dr. Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship. His research focuses on the effects of interpersonal and institutional betrayal on those who have experienced these harms. He is particularly interested in how institutional betrayal may exacerbate the effects of interpersonal trauma, and how certain groups may be more at risk for experiencing both interpersonal and institutional betrayal in a variety of institutional contexts. Read more  

Javier chosen to participate in APA Research Colloquium

Frances Javier, MD, a second-year resident in the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Adult/Child Psychiatry training program, has been selected to participate in the 2020 American Psychiatric Association (APA) Research Colloquium. The program will be held during the APA Annual Meeting April 25 and 26 in Philadelphia. Javier will receive a stipend for her participation in the Molecular, Translational, and Neuroscience Research track of the colloquium. Her project examines the effect of electroconvulsive therapy on brain synaptic vesicle density in treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Read more  

Grilo guest co-editor on special issue of American Psychologist

Carlos Grilo, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology and Director of the Yale Program for Obesity Weight and Eating Research, served as guest co-editor on a special issue titled "Obesity: Psychosocial and Behavioral Aspects of a Modern Epidemic" in the February/March issue of the American Psychologist, the official peer-reviewed scholarly journal of the American Psychological Association. The special issue includes a collection of papers from psychologists who are internationally recognized experts in obesity addressing a range of topics. Read more  

Rutland: The clock is ticking on medical marijuana bill in Alabama

Will Rutland, MD, JD, MPH, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, wrote on the website Alabama.com about Alabama's proposed medical marijuana legislation and its implications for the state's mental health services. "If state lawmakers are destined to move toward legalization, they must first address the urgent need for stronger mental health infrastructure," he wrote. "To neglect this step would exalt the 'high' of short-term gains above the long-term safety of Alabama residents." Rutland is a Montgomery, Ala., native. Read more  

Grenough: What can I do when my heart is breaking?

Millie Grenough, LCSW, MAT, Clinical Instructor (Social Work) in Psychiatry, published a column for Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global media platform in February. In her article, Grenough writes: "I am a 'white' woman living in a Connecticut town where another 'black' teen has been shot and killed by a cop. How can I be with my women of color friends? How can I be with myself?" The writing came in response to the January 15 killing in West Haven of 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane, who family members reported had a mental illness. Read more  

Isaacs: The mental health hazards of reading about physician suicide

In a compelling perspectives piece published by JAMA, Kayla Isaacs, BS, a senior student at Yale School of Medicine, writes about her past struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. Reading literature about medical student and physician suicide only exacerbated her feelings. "The barriers to finding satisfaction within medicine can seem insurmountable, even in the absence of depression. The medical profession must advocate for policies that incentivize holistic patient care and other activities that garner physicians meaning and joy," she wrote. Read more  

In her work at The Hispanic Clinic, Almasude seeks to find, create humanity in health care

Second-year Psychiatry resident Eden Almasude, MD, MA, leads ¬°Cu√©ntanos!, a group based at The Hispanic Clinic at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), that holds a vision of creating a healing space through storytelling, poetry, and theater. Almasude strongly believes in creating meaningful connections influenced by her deep passion for activism and social justice. Those perspectives have colored her approach to medicine. Almasude has been able to intersect those interests through her work at The Hispanic Clinic. Read more  

Teen vaping is bad. Nicotine makes it worse, says researcher

Research by Marina Picciotto, PhD, Charles B. G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry and Professor in the Child Study Center, of Neuroscience and of Pharmacology, was featured in Science Magazine, which covered a talk where she discussed her findings on the long-term impact of nicotine on a developing brain. Picciotto has researched the long-term effects of nicotine exposure on developing brains in mice. This research showed nicotine-exposed adolescent mice had structural changes to their brain cells, altering how information is sent throughout the brain. Read more  

Podcast: Religion and suicidality with Dr. Michael Norko

Michael Norko, MD, MA, Professor of Psychiatry, spoke with MDedge Psychiatry Editor in Chief Lorenzo Norris, MD, about incorporating patients' spiritual and religious histories into psychiatric evaluations. The interview was made into a podcast. Norko is lead author of a paper that explores whether religion is protective against suicide. His interview with Norris occurred at the 2019 fall meeting of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. Norko is Director of Forensic Services for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. Read more  

D'Souza testifies at public hearing on proposed marijuana legalization

Deepak Cyril D'Souza, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, testified at a public hearing in Hartford on March 2 when lawmakers discussed details of a new bill proposed by the governor that would legalize recreational marijuana in Connecticut. Representing himself, and not the medical school, D'Souza said there is "fairly compelling evidence" that marijuana can affect youth. "While we define adulthood as 21 years of age, at least as brain scientists we actually know very well the brain only continues to mature and is complete by age 26," he said. Read more  

Fucito participates in Q&A With International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

Lisa Fucito, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Tobacco Treatment Service at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven, recently participated in a Q&A with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. She spoke about the recent advent of e-cigarette/vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI), discussed whether e-cigarette use and vaping has become an epidemic among youth, as well as about how e-cigarette/vaping companies have learned much more quickly than healthcare providers how to influence substance habits of youth. Read more  

Bloch featured in HuffPost: ADHD can be debilitating at work. Here's how to make it better.

Michael Bloch, MD, MS, Associate Professor in the Child Study Center and Associate Director of the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Training Program, weighed in on how adults can manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at work in a story in HuffPost. "Working environment can have a dramatic effect on performance of individuals with ADHD in the workplace," he said, adding that people should keep their workspaces organized and use headphones to minimize distractions. Day planners, timers, and phone alarms can be used to schedule breaks and to keep up with deadlines. Read more  

Katz presents Geriatric Medicine Grand Rounds

Rachel Katz, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, presented Grand Rounds for Yale School of Medicine's Section of Geriatric Medicine on March 3. The title of her talk was, "Approaches to the Treatment of Mood Disorders in the Geriatric Population - Perspective from Interventional Psychiatry." Katz, an attending physician at Interventional Psychiatric Services at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, spoke about the use of interventional psychiatric modalities such as electroconvulsive therapy, ketamine infusion therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat geriatric mood disorders.

Sullivan, Meyer awarded grant to study intimate partner violence among women living with HIV

Tami Sullivan, PhD, left, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and Jaimie Meyer, MD, MS, right, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing, have been awarded a new grant to study intimate partner violence among women living with HIV. The grant will allow Sullivan and Meyer to evaluate how intimate partner violence impacts HIV care engagement and medication adherence on a daily basis among women living with HIV. Read more  

Vaping: A huge uncontrolled experiment

The Yale Cancer Center featured Stephanie O'Malley, PhD, left, Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry, and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, PhD, right, Professor of Psychiatry, in a recent report about the proliferation and possible consequences of e-cigarette use by young people. "What I'm most worried about is that we have all these kids now using nicotine, sometimes at very high levels, and there is evidence that some of them are moving on to cigarettes," Krishnan-Sarin said. "Then there's the toxicity of the nicotine itself. It changes the functioning of almost every organ, and the teen brain is particularly sensitive to its effects." O'Malley added, "It takes years to see the consequences of any epidemic. There's a huge uncontrolled experiment going on." O'Malley and Krishnan-Sarin co-lead the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science. Read more  

Alumni Spotlight

Hochang B. (Ben) Lee, MD, profiled in Rochester Medicine

Hochang B. (Ben) Lee, MD, the former founding Director and Chief of Yale School of Medicine's Psychological Medicine Service, was recently profiled by Rochester Medicine, the publication of the University or Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. After six years at Yale, Lee was recruited in 2017 to become Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Rochester medical school and Chief of Psychiatry at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Lee's arrival in Rochester marked the start of a major expansion of clinical services in response to the growing mental health needs of the surrounding area. His work at Yale prepared him well to oversee Rochester's growth. At Yale, under Lee's leadership, the consultation liaison service grew to include 17 faculty members and 50 clinicians, and its fellowships are highly competitive. "Ben showed remarkable diplomatic skills in melding his colleagues in Psychological Medicine into a team and in building bridges with other departments," said John H. Krystal, MD, Chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry. "He is one of those rare people who quietly conveys brilliance, creativity, and vision and kindness and humility." Read more 

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Staff Connections

 

Employee Spotlight, a feature in Psychiatry@Yale, profiles one Yale Department of Psychiatry staff member every issue. Featured this month is Mayra Ortiz Lopez, Research Assistant in the Interventional Psychiatric Services at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital.

Q: What is your role in Yale Psychiatry and what work do you perform?

A: "As a research assistant in Yale Psychiatry, I am actively involved in speaking with adult patients enrolled in our research studies for treatment resistant depression. I administer clinician scales, self-reports, and cognitive tests for the research. I also work in conjunction with a wonderful team of nurses and physicians in the Interventional Psychiatric Services department to deliver the best care and experience. My role at the clinic involves regular check-ins with clinical patients that receive intravenous ketamine infusions, intranasal esketamine, and electroconvulsive therapy treatments. At these check-ins, I administer cognitive tests, a self-report scale, and a clinician-administered scale of depressive symptoms that will help physicians determine if treatments are improving patients' symptoms. This role at Yale has allowed me to experience both the research phase as well as its translation and application into the clinical setting."

Q: How do you achieve work/life balance?

A: "Fortunately, my job at Yale allows for a great work/life balance. I devote my time to my work responsibilities while I am at the hospital and focus on my life duties after work. Our work hours and patient-centered responsibilities happen during normal business hours, so time spent outside of work is achievable."

Q: Before working at Yale, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?

A: "Before working at Yale, I was working at State Farm insurance as a customer service representative and sales. I obtained my bank and property and casualty certification while working in the insurance field. Our book of business was majorly Spanish-speaking, so I had the pleasure of working with my community and problem solving. In the insurance field I gained the confidence and skills needed to work in an environment that serves others."

Q: When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

A: "During my free time, I enjoy spending time at the gym. I think maintaining an active and balanced lifestyle is particularly important. I make time for 4-5 hours of gym time per week - this includes weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise."

Q: What is your favorite indoor or outdoor activity?

A: "My favorite outdoor activity is exploring different hiking trails in Connecticut. I have gained an appreciation for the trails and beautiful scenic views."

Steven and Kimberly Gentile speak at Rare Disease Day Symposium

Steven Gentile, Deputy Chair for Finance and Administration in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and his wife, Kimberly Gentile, center, spoke at Quinnipiac University's Rare Disease Day Symposium on February 28. They shared their inspiring family story about their son, Justin, who lives with the rare disease Hunter Syndrome. On February 27, the couple was interviewed on WTNH-TV Channel 8 to promote the event. Pictured with the Gentiles is Allison Cammisa, left, a student at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. Watch

Administrative staff sponsors 50/50 raffle to benefit United Way

The Yale Department of Psychiatry's administrative team sponsored a 50/50 raffle in February with proceeds going to the United Way of Greater New Haven. The winning ticket was pulled March 2 by Mary Kate De Marco, right, Senior Operations Manager. Holding the ticket box was Alyssa Paolillo, who co-championed the department's United Way fund drive with Chris Gardner. The winning ticket was held by Stacie DiMaggio. The raffle raised $150 for the United Way.

Jordan meets the mayor

 

Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, met newly elected New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker at an event March 5. Jordan and the mayor discussed her work with the IMANI Breakthrough Faith-based Opioid Recovery Program, an intervention Jordan and colleague Chyrell Bellamy, PhD (not pictured) developed to target people addicted to and actively using heroin and/or other opiates, drugs, and alcohol. It consists of group-based mutual support and recovery education with wrap-around coaching provided to the participants. Facilitators/coaches are people with lived experience of addictions and recovery; and church members. IMANI also provides monthly education sessions for church and community on opioid use and ways to address this epidemic. Sessions meet monthly at local churches.

Dailey discusses mental health response to disasters, mass casualty events

 

When it comes to disasters and mass casualty events, "it's never a question of 'if'; it's only a question of where, when and what type," Wayne Dailey, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, told attendees at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Yale Division of Public Psychiatry. The meeting, held at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), focused specifically on disaster mental health response when preparing for disasters and mass casualty events. "When a big disaster hits, it throws people back on their heels," Dailey said. "People who have competent lives, for the most part, are all of a sudden bewildered, overcome, feel hopeless and helpless, and so what you want to do is try to reconnect them with their strengths and with other assets that can assist them in their recovery and plan for their recovery." Read more

Rascati honored by Fellowship Place at 60th Anniversary Gala

 

Fellowship Place, the New Haven-based organization which serves adults living with mental illness, honored James Rascati, MSW, Clinical Instructor (Social Work) in Psychiatry, at its 60th Anniversary Gala on February 27 at the New Haven Lawn Club. Rascati, a longtime board member of Fellowship Place, helped the organization and Connecticut Mental Health Center partner in the 1970s to provide social rehabilitation services for people who receive clinical treatment. The important, meaningful collaboration continues today. Pictured with Rascati is Phyllis McDowell, founder of Fellowship Place. The organization offers a full range of therapeutic support and rehabilitation services that promote independence, wellness, and a meaningful life. It is open 365 days a year and serves over 800 people annually.

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